Sunday, January 12, 2014

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider "liking" us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

"Rubio Demands States’ Right to Ignore the Poor"

"Rubio speaks" . . . and the national media laffs: "Rubio Demands States’ Right to Ignore the Poor".

In full on wanna-be-preznit mode, Rubio tries to cover his teabagger tracks before a national television audience this morning.

"Two-Sided Attacks Fly"

"The attacks continue in the special election to fill the Pinellas County congressional seat that had been held by U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., for more than 40 years." "Two-Sided Attacks Fly in Pinellas Congressional Battle". More CD13: "Final District 13 debate covers climate issues".

Scott promises . . .

"Gov. Scott promises changes to school standards". See also "Rick Scott Looks to Calm Nerves over Common Core". See also "Gov. Rick Scott hints at 'Common Core' alternative for Florida".

Moderate Republicans MIA in Florida

Nancy Smith: "Rick Scott clawed his way to the highest office in the state alone. Nobody but the tea party had his back. To win re-election, he might have to do it alone again -- at least, without the support of moderates of star quality."

Let's say Chris Christie escapes a George Washington Bridge tarnish. Even if he's still good as gold, he's probably the only top-drawer moderate Republican who can throw an arm around Scott's neck and have it mean something in Florida.
"Rick Scott May Have to Win in a Vacuum of Star-Moderate Republicans".

"Everybody wants a soda"

Aaron Deslatte: "It's a legislative adage that it's better to have no money than a little bit. In tight fiscal times, Florida's budget writers can earnestly say no to interest-group demands. When there's some lose change kicking around, everybody wants a soda."

That's why it'll be interesting to watch lawmakers this year balance the wish lists for business incentives with the push to provide some populist tax relief.

Although the state's economic-development agencies have drawn flak for incentive projects that haven't produced promised jobs, lawmakers themselves are angling to give tax breaks to Daytona International Speedway; Major League Soccer stadiums in Orlando and Miami; and telecommunications companies.

"Lawmakers ponder tax cuts, stadiums, other spending".

Wall street lapdogs are back with pension deform

"Last year, legislation that would have closed the Florida Retirement System pension plan to new hires easily passed the House with Weatherford’s backing. It died in the Senate amid uniform opposition from Democrats, who were joined by eight Republicans who voted down a scaled-back version of the proposal. Now, as they head into the legislative session set to begin March 4, they are preparing to revive a legislative push to overhaul the pension benefits for new teachers, state workers and other public employees." "Pension reform talk is back for 2014 session".

The words "overhaul" and "reform" are of course code for eliminating the existing defined benefit system for new employees and replacing it with a 401(k)-like system that has the Wall-Streeters drooling.

Keep them blue-staters a comin'

"Each year, New York sends more people to live in Florida than does any other state, according to tax statistics compiled by the Internal Revenue Service." "New York feeding Florida growth".

Time to get out of execution business

Carl Hiaasen writes that it is "time for Florida to get out of the costly execution business, and let cancer and clogged arteries do what the justice system can’t." "Let’s put an end to the executions".

More than a million Florida workers make less than $10.10 an hour

"Can you get by in Florida on earnings of $7.93 an hour?"

Florida's minimum wage rose by 14 cents on Jan. 1, which makes it 68 cents higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 but still leaves hundreds of thousands of workers in the state hovering near the poverty line.

Now President Barack Obama wants to give them and millions of others across the country a raise to $10.10 an hour by 2016 through a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage. More than a million Florida workers would benefit because they now make less than $10.10 an hour, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

"Proposed minimum wage of $10.10 would help a million Florida workers".

Another privatization flop

"The debate over what to do about Palm Beach County’s troubled bus service for the elderly and disabled is about to start up again."

In the first of three meetings about Palm Tran Connection, county commissioners on Tuesday will consider a settlement deal that would allow Metro Mobility Management Group out of its five-year, $90 million contract to operate the para-transit service.

On Jan. 28, the commission will hold workshops to discuss possible changes to the service, including whether to have the county operate Palm Tran Connection or hire another private firm.

"Firm busing disabled to get out of contract".

Scott promises "big" FlaGOP win

"Gov. Rick Scott told loudly cheering Republicans on Saturday the party will "win big" in November by contrasting Florida's job growth during his tenure in Tallahassee and appealing to conservative ideals of personal responsibility and economic opportunity."

In his 20-minute pep talk to the Republican Party of Florida state committee, the governor did not mention former Gov. Charlie Crist, his predecessor who is now running against him as a Democrat. Scott, though, pointedly noted that "it always is easier to campaign than it is to govern," and drew sharp contrasts between Florida's job gains and economic growth in the past three years and the state's experience in the national recession under Crist.

"This is going to be a big election year," Scott said. "We are going to win big in the state."

"Scott says GOP will 'win big' in November".

Scott pushes $100 million handout

"If granted by state lawmakers, the state funding for the public-private tourism promotion organization would jump nearly 60 percent over current funding." "Gov. Scott wants $100 million for Visit Florida".

"Nonstop stench"

"On Friday, leaders in Tallahassee reacted to Steve Precourt resigning his seat in the Florida House to take over as executive director of the Orlando Orange County Express Authority (OOCEA), calling for a special election to replace him and naming a new chairman of the State and Local Affairs Committee."

After being chosen earlier in the week for the position, Precourt, who represented parts of Orange County, announced on Thursday he would accept OOCEA’s offer.
"Rick Scott and Will Weatherford Move Quickly After Steve Precourt Resigns". See also "Rep. Boyd gets State Affairs chair spot in post-Precourt shuffle, special election announced to fill seat".

Meanwhile, the locals ain't happy - Scott Maxwell puts it this way: "Nonstop stench at expressway proves board needs to be replaced".

Yee haw!

"UF sued by Florida gun-rights group over campus firearm rules". More: "Florida law to legalize warning shots passes Senate panel".

Meanwhile, "Florida Gun Rights Advocates Discuss Their Secret Weapon at Capitol Rally".

"Lamebrained idea"

"Fred Grimm: Lamebrained idea: Kids working for pols".

Is 65 percent threshold is too high?

"Water customers could petition the state’s Public Service Commission to shut down private, for-profit water and sewer utilities if a new bill sponsored by Pasco state Sen. Wilton Simpson wins approval in the Florida Legislature this session."

Simpson, R-Trilby, sponsored the Consumer Water Protection Act in October but said he has rewritten the bill, which is slated to go before the Senate Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities committee Tuesday.

“I wanted to file a bill to put the private utilities on notice,” Simpson said. “I want this to become law — it’s important that it does.”

Under the new provisions, the PSC could cancel a utility company’s certificate of authorization to operate a water or sewer system if 65 percent of its customers sign a petition. If the utility cannot prove it’s operating in the public interest, the PSC could place the system in receivership until it’s sold to another operator. . . .

Ann Marie Ryan, a member of the Summertree Water Alliance, said the homeowners’ group supports the bill but worries that the 65 percent threshold is too high for communities with a large number of seasonal residents.

"Fla. Senate bill takes on water utilities".